Friday, 27 June 2008

MA Writing: Apply Now

My agent told me once that when UK universities first started offering MAs in writing, people who eventually got the things were taken quite seriously by the people in publishing. It was thought that if your writing was good enough to get you through the application process, and you stuck at it long enough to graduate, then you probably had something worth considering (at least, as far as your writing went).

As writing MAs began to proliferate, their graduates seemed less and less special. These days, having an MA in writing is almost like wearing a badge which reads, I’m a writer to be avoided. All that workshopping, critical study and careful thought instils in some writers an intellectual constipation so deep that it’s nigh-on impossible to make them write anything without ending up covered in a bad case of derivative literary regurgitation.

At last, an MA course has arrived which is designed to train the writer for the real writing life. Sign up now, before all the places go.

11 comments:

Sally said...

Thanks for that. It's so true and I loved the link. I've not laughed so much in weeks.

Jenn said...

Thank you for the link. I love the constipation quote... in fact, you may have inspired me to create a new module...

How Publishing Really Works said...

Thanks for that, Jenn. I'm sorry, I had intended to post on your lovely blog but time ran away with me. As usual.

As a veteran of an MA course (I did, of course, get a distinction, so I now feel cheated out of the satisfaction of Feeling Bitter and Realising It Was All A Con, I feel qualified to teach on one now. How about a module on Finding The Right Way To Crucify The Competition? Or perhaps, The Best Smug Smile To Employ In The Face Of Workshop Criticism? I'm open to offers.

How Publishing Really Works said...

Oh, dear.

I've just received an email from an affronted writer who has accused me of mocking MAs, and not taking seriously the effort that writers go to in order to complete their courses (funny, I thought, seeing as I have my own MA in writing--with distinction, no less). My "constipation" comment was considered particularly cruel.

I just hope that they didn't follow the link to Jenn's blog, because if they read her post they might just explode.

I wish that they had chosen to post their comment on here, as this is where it belongs. I shall point out that my original post relies heavily on the use of irony, which a writer really should understand, and leave it at that.

Jenn said...

Exploding blog readers... I like the sound of that. If I could be bothered I'd try to think up something properly controversial to say, just to hear the sound of bodies popping, horrified onto computer screens.

Print out all your hate mail and make origami birds out of it. It's what I do with my rejection letters...

It's funny, what your agent said. I always thought they weren't that bothered either way, and anyway, a lot of them trawl courses looking for the next big thing, don't they?

J

Rachael King said...

I also have an MA in creative writing and can have a laugh at myself. When I did mine, it was the only one in the whole country (NZ), and it only had 10 places. Now that same university offers 30 places, in 3 different streams, and MAs have sprung up at other universities and polytechs, you do have to wonder if the quality is a little compromised.

Mock away! I love Jenn's MA. And thanks for linking to my blog.

Jenn said...

Thank you Rachel. Courses in writing have proliferated, haven't they? I think it's okay though.The main benefit for me was the time and the funding and the feedback from the other students, I didn't expect more than that so I wasn't disapointed. Not everyone who does an art or music degree ends up working in that area with financial sucess, I'm sure, and of course the quality of the course and the student's work will vary a lot and depend on a lot of things.

I don't feel conned or swindled and I'm also allowed to take the piss, same as everyone else.

Jenn

How Publishing Really Works said...

Jenn, that's such an elegant way to deal with rejections... and far more appropriate to my usual approach, which is to preserve them forever in a display book so that I can read them back years later, and get all worked up again.

Rachel, your blog is gorgeous, and thank you for the reciprocal link. I have an account at Sitemeter which allows me to spy on traffic in and out of here, and a couple of times I've noticed someone dropping in from your neck of the woods. Next time I see it, I'll wave in case it's you.

Jenn said...

Elegant - heh heh. I didn't tell you what I do to the birds, but it's very cathartic. :)

Emily Cross said...

The link post is Hilarious!!!

Seriously though, this post gives some like myself who is a 'non ba/ma in english lit/creative writing etc.' person hope.

Anonymous said...

I have had BA students barely capable of stringing a sentence together who then win a place on a creative writing MA. I don't think they should even get a BA, but there you go...
(I'm staying anonymous today only to protect my students.)